What is Psoriasis?

Psoriasis is an inflammatory skin disease characterized by an increased rate of skin cell turnover resulting in thick scales appearing on the skin. The affected skin becomes dry and unsightly. Itching is often experienced in our hot and humid climate. As part of our skin, nails also show changes like “pitting” of their surface in up to half of people with psoriasis. Joint pains and swelling are associated in 5% to as much as 40% in more extensive psoriasis.

How do you know if you have Psoriasis?

Psoriasis usually presents with red scaly patches on the scalp, body and limbs. The scaly patches on the scalp are usually thicker and more extensive than ordinary dandruff. Common sites of the body affected are the elbows, the knees and the back.

Why does Psoriasis happen?

The cause of psoriasis is unknown. Studies point to a genetic predisposition, although complex interaction with environmental factors are necessary to trigger off the appearance of psoriasis. Once psoriasis starts, there will be periods of remission alternating with periods of active psoriasis.

What makes Psoriasis worse?

Physical and emotional stress are well known to aggravate psoriasis. Throat infections or the flu may trigger off aggravation of the disease. Some drugs, e.g. steroid hormones and certain anti-hypertensives may provoke the appearance of psoriasis.
What’s the natural history of Psoriasis?

Psoriasis usually starts in the 20’s but has been described at birth and in old age. Like diabetes and other chronic diseases, psoriasis has a delayed onset and seldom remits permanently. However, unlike other chronic illnesses, it rarely shortens life expectancy.

Will I pass my Psoriasis on to my children?

Not necessarily. Psoriasis is a hereditary disorder but only about 10% of people with psoriasis have a family member affected by psoriasis. The cause of psoriasis is multifactorial and inherited genes do not always express disease without the appropriate environmental triggers.

Is Psoriasis a rare skin disease?

No, psoriasis is not an uncommon skin disease. It is estimated that 1 – 2% of the population in Singapore have psoriasis.

Are there any foods to avoid, or supplements to help my Psoriasis?

No. But it is wise to consume a nutritious, balanced diet containing more green vegetables and less meats. Alcohol abuse is best avoided because of its associated malnutrition and liver disease.

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